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Penn surgeons use completely robotic surgery to treat prostate cancer

PHILADELPHIA, PA - Prostate cancer is the second leading cause of death among American men. It is estimated that one in six males will develop the disease during his lifetime. However, promising new treatment options have been developed to help combat this threatening disease.

One of the most innovative of these treatments is robotic-assisted laparoscopic prostatectomy (removal of the prostate). The University of Pennsylvania Health System is currently one of only a handful of facilities across the country offering this minimally invasive, high-tech treatment. David I. Lee, M.D., a national expert in robotic surgery, was recruited to Penn and named Chief of the Division of Urology at Penn Presbyterian Medical Center, where the robotic prostate program is based.

There are many factors that make robotics an exceptionally valuable tool in the operating room during prostate surgery, for both the patient and surgeon. "Perhaps two of the most-feared possible long-term effects of a radical prostatectomy are erectile dysfunction and urinary incontinence," says Dr. Lee. "My specially-trained team and I have discovered that by using the robotic technique there is greater nerve sparing, which provides patients with the best chance for maintaining potency and continence."

Robotic technology offers a number of advantages during surgery. For instance, the robotic "arms" filter even minute tremors of the human hand so to provide steadiness. The robot's camera also provides a three-dimensional, stereoscopic image of the body's interior, as opposed to a two-dimensional image on a flat screen. This improved perspective enables depth perception sharpens the visualization of the prostate and the network of nerves and tissue surrounding it. Additionally, by scaling down the motion of the robotic instruments, the surgeon can perform extremely precise, intricate movements during the procedure. For example, if the surgeon's hand moves five centimeters, he/she
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Contact: Olivia Fermano
olivia.fermano@uphs.upenn.edu
215-349-5653
University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine
6-Oct-2005


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